In January he contributed to the New York Tribune some letters on the Sandwich Islands, but as these were more properly articles they do not seem to belong here.
He refused to go on the lecture circuit, though he permitted Redpath to book him for any occasional appearance, and it is due to one of these special engagements that we have the only letter preserved from this time. It is to Howells, and written with that exaggeration with which he was likely to embellish his difficulties. We are not called upon to believe that there were really any such demonstrations as those ascribed to Warner and himself.
To W. D. Howells, in Boston:
FARMINGTON AVE, Hartford Feb. 27. MY DEAR HOWELLS,--I am in a sweat and Warner is in another. I told Redpath some time ago I would lecture in Boston any two days he might choose provided they were consecutive days--
I never dreamed of his choosing days during Lent since that was his special horror--but all at once he telegraphs me, and hollers at me in ail manner of ways that I am booked for Boston March 5 of all days in the year--and to make matters just as mixed and uncertain as possible, I can't find out to save my life whether he means to lecture me on the 6th or not.
Warner's been in here swearing like a lunatic, and saying he had written you to come on the 4th,--and I said, "You leather-head, if I talk in Boston both afternoon and evening March 5, I'll have to go to Boston the 4th,"--and then he just kicked up his heels and went off cursing after a fashion I never heard of before.
Now let's just leave this thing to Providence for 24 hours--you bet it will come out all right. Yours ever MARK.
He was writing a book with Warner at this time--The Gilded Age-- the two authors having been challenged by their wives one night at dinner to write a better book than the current novels they had been discussing with some severity. Clemens already had a story in his mind, and Warner agreed to collaborate in the writing. It was begun without delay. Clemens wrote the first three hundred and ninety- nine pages, and read there aloud to Warner, who took up the story at this point and continued it through twelve chapters, after which they worked alternately, and with great enjoyment. They also worked rapidly, and in April the story was completed. For a collaboration by two men so different in temperament and literary method it was a remarkable performance.
Another thing Mark Twain did that winter was to buy some land on Farmington Avenue and begin the building of a home. He had by no means given up returning to England, and made his plans to sail with Mrs. Clemens and Susy in May. Miss Clara Spaulding, of Elmira-- [Later Mrs. John B. Stanchfield, of New York.]--a girlhood friend of Mrs. Clemens--was to accompany them.
The Daily Graphic heard of the proposed journey, and wrote, asking for a farewell word. His characteristic reply is the only letter of any kind that has survived from that spring.
To the Editor of "The Daily Graphic," in New York City:
HARTFORD, Apl. 17, 1873. ED. GRAPHIC,--Your note is received. If the following two lines which I have cut from it are your natural handwriting, then I understand you to ask me "for a farewell letter in the name of the American people." Bless you, the joy of the American people is just a little premature; I haven't gone yet. And what is more, I am not going to stay, when I do go.
Yes, it is true. I am only going to remain beyond the sea, six months, that is all. I love stir and excitement; and so the moment the spring birds begin to sing, and the lagging weariness of summer to threaten, I grow restless, I get the fidgets; I want to pack off somewhere where there's something going on.